President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday the country is officially in the third wave of the coronavirus, saying it it has become more serious than previous peaks.

JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa briefed the country on the results of a National Coronavirus Command Council meeting this week, saying that nation would be moved to adjusted alert level 4.

“After 14 days, we will examine where we are. We will assess the impact of the restrictions to determine if they need to be maintained or adjusted,” he said.

The restrictions are as follows:

( 1) All gatherings – political, social, or cultural – are prohibited;

( 2) Funerals and cremations will continue, but can’t exceed 50 people in numbers;

( 3) After-funeral gatherings prohibited;

( 4) Public spaces like parks will remain open, but no gatherings are permitted at such places;

( 5) A curfew will be in place from 9pm to 4am. All establishments must be closed by 9pm;

( 6) All alcohol sales have been prohibited;

( 7) Restaurants can only sell food for takeout or deliveries;

( 8) Schools and other education institutions closing for winter will be brought forward. Schools will begin to close on Wednesday, and all schools must be closed by Friday; and

( 9) Contact classes in tertiary institutions will be closed this week and access to the buildings will be closed. Residences, however, will remain open.

An exhaustive list will be made available once it is has been gazetted by government.

The president explained the ban on alcohol sales was to assist the healthcare sector with an alleviated workload. Last year and during New Year, Eyewitness News spoke to a number of healthcare workers who explained that trauma cases decreased significantly once alcohol was banned during the first COVID-19 wave. It allowed for health facilities to focus their resources on coronavirus cases.

“Because of the burden of infections in Gauteng, travel for leisure purposes will be prohibited,” he said.

The president highlighted the seriousness of the current resurgence of COVID-19 infection numbers, saying that the delta variant was concerning.

As of Sunday night, South Africa recorded over 15,000 new coronavirus infections. pushing the overall number of infections in the country to over 1,913,000. According to the health department, the country currently has 158,000 active cases.

South Africa also recorded 157 new deaths in the same 24-hour cycle, bringing the national death toll close to the 60,000 mark – at 59, 778.There has been a spike in COVID-19 infections countrywide in recent weeks.

“The situation has gone worse,” Ramaphosa said on Sunday night.

He said the delta variant of the disease, which “spread like wildfire in India,” has been found in provinces such as the Eastern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. He also said this was becoming the dominant variant in the country, and that it is thought to be twice as contagious as earlier variants of the virus.

“Because it is more contagious, it can infect far more people,” he said.

“There is emerging scientific evidence that people infected by the beta variant do not have full protection against the delta variant,” he said, adding that people could still fall ill.

He said the current peak in infections has already surpassed the first peak in July last year, and will soon pass the second peak in January, Ramaphosa added

We are in the grip of a devastating wave, that by all indications seems like it will be worse than those that preceded it,” he said. The first wave lasted 15 weeks, the second, nine weeks.

“Complacency comes at a high price,” he said, addressing the public’s frustration with current COVID-19 regulations.

He said private and public health facilities are struggling with the COVID-19 patient numbers. “What we are seeing is that the existing containment measures in place are not enough to cope with the speed and scale of the infections we are seeing in this third wave.”

He said the government looked at international examples to help reduce person-to-person contact and help to flatten the curve, “as we did with the first wave and as we did with the second wave”.